President’s statement on recent crimes
To members of the Northwestern community:
As you undoubtedly know, there have been a series of robberies of students near the Evanston campus this fall. Another one occurred Thursday night, when two of our undergraduate students were held up near Foster and Sherman. Fortunately, as has been the case in all of the robberies, the students were not physically harmed.
These robberies and assaults on our students near and on the Evanston campus are a matter of most urgent concern. One of our top priorities has always been the safety of our students, faculty and staff. Historically, the Evanston campus and the nearby neighborhood have not presented a substantial crime risk. These incidents change that. We are all concerned, and understandably so.
We have created a special emergency task force, made up of University Police, Student Affairs, Facilities Management and others to deal with the extremely troubling problem we now face. The University already has taken numerous actions in response to the earlier incidents, including the following:
• Hiring private security officers to assist University Police in patrolling the campus at night on foot and in golf carts to provide a highly visible security presence.
• Increasing University Police patrols at night both on campus and off-campus in the areas where the robberies have occurred. University Police are now working increased overtime shifts, with the emphasis on nighttime patrols.
• Establishing a task force of University Police officers and detectives to work specifically on these attacks. The Evanston Police Department has established a similar task force and the two agencies are cooperating on the investigation. Because most of these robberies have occurred off-campus, the Evanston Police Department is the lead agency on this and we are assisting them in the investigation. The Evanston Police Department has notified the University of a substantially increased commitment of resources, beginning this weekend, in the areas where the robberies have occurred.
• Increasing the hours of the shuttle bus service provided on campus.
• Increasing service on the escort service, which provides free rides at night for students from campus to areas where students live off-campus. We have added vans with private security officers as drivers to increase the availability of this service.
Over the past few years, Northwestern has made major improvements in lighting on campus. This week, we conducted a safety walk with student leaders from the Women’s Coalition and Associated Student Government. As the result of that and our own analyses, we will further improve lighting in areas near our residence halls and other locations, such as on the east side of Sheridan Road between the Arch and the Jacobs Center. In addition, we have requested that the City of Evanston accelerate its efforts to improve lighting in the neighborhoods near campus by installing bulbs that provide better illumination.
In addition, we are in the process of taking additional measures, including:
• Using off-duty police officers to supplement University Police and to cover special events, such as basketball games. This will provide greater flexibility in deploying University police.
• Installing additional emergency phones on campus.
We continue to examine other measures as well. I assure you that the University will continue to provide whatever resources are necessary to address this problem. There are no budgetary constraints for a matter of such importance.
University Police and Evanston Police are working diligently to find the individuals responsible for these attacks. In the past week, there have been several arrests made for robberies in Evanston. The investigation of these suspects continues. I know I share with all of you the hope that the individuals responsible for these crimes are apprehended as quickly as possible.
In the meantime, I urge everyone on the Evanston campus to follow the advice of University Police to be alert when traveling on or off-campus, especially at night and to be aware of the location of emergency phones that are linked directly to University Police. Report suspicious activity immediately to the Northwestern University Police at (847) 491-3456 or 456 from any campus phone, or the Evanston Police at (847) 866-5000. In emergencies, dial 911.
Thank you for your help with this difficult issue.
Henry S. Bienen